In the past few years, soy production and sales have taken off. Our society has regarded soy as purely healthy food, but let me take this time to clear up some misconceptions about this bean:
Soy is a complete protein. What does that mean? Where other plant derived protein is lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids (our bodies make 12 out of 20 amino acids, but the remaining 8 need to be supplied by food we eat), soy has them all.
So what’s the problem? Let’s talk about two types of soy: non-fermented and fermented.
NON-FERMENTED = bad
The soy in this country is primarily non-fermented soy in the form of soy-protein isolate and soy milk. This is where the majority of the problems stem from because it is a highly processed, devitalizing and toxic food source.
“It is interesting that the soy industry promotes soy as a healthy way to prevent or treat osteoporosis when soy has been shown to deplete the body of vital minerals and vitamins necessary to maintain optimal bone structure and function.” (Dr. David Brownstein)
Soy-protein isolate contains enzyme inhibitors that block the body’s ability to digest protein. In addition, soy has been known to decrease fertility, cause thyroid problems, cause Vitamin B12 deficiency, lower metabolic rate (making it difficult to lose weight) among other things.
FERMENTED = good in moderation
Fermented soy, such as tofu, miso soup, tempeh, and natto are easily digested and assimilated into the body. It has been proven to lower cholesterol, remove the risk of heart disease, decreases menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, depression and anxiety.
Unfortunately, by eating too much soy in our diets, it does more harm than good. “High consumption of isoflavones, which are the estrogen-like plant chemicals contained in soy, may stimulate the production of breast cancer cells. It may also increase the chances of developing serious reproductive, thyroid, and liver problems.” (Kate Murphy)
Soy does help with several issues; however, it only helps if it is fermented soy, not the genetically modified (processed) soy found in over 60% of grocery store foods AND only in small portions (not daily). If you find it too difficult to eliminate soy completely out of your diet, opt for the natural forms of soy.
Despite what the soy industry says, fermented soy is eaten sparingly by Asians. When it is used in moderation, soy does not have the same negative influences on minerals, vitamins, and the thyroid that non-fermented form of soy does. Please remember to stay away from non-fermented soy, but I rather you stay away completely =)
Dr. David Brownstein, Natural Way to Health, “Dangers and Misconceptions About Soy and Your Health”, December 2008, Vol. 1, Issue 8.
Dr. Don Colbert, I Can Do This Diet (2010): 80-81.
Kate Murphy, “The Dark Side of Soy,” BusinessWeek.com, December 18, 2000, http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_51/b3712218.htm (accessed September 19, 2009).